5Qs for Mark Bryan on the future of store design

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5Qs for Mark Bryan on the future of store design

By Al Urbanski - 09/04/2019
Named one of the top 300 architecture firms in the nation by Architectural Record for 2018, Columbus-based M+A Architects performed the open and airy renovation of Easton Town Center’s version of the enclosed mall, The Station. M+A is known for a commitment to innovation and creating structures that will remain relevant to future generations, so we asked senior interior designer Mark Bryan what the future held for store and shopping center design.

Name one or two fundamental differences in how today’s stores are designed and constructed versus 10 years ago.
The biggest thing when designing a store now is to have that experiential mindset. You have to design to evoke emotion. You need to show how the brand is investing in consumers. Brands need to create places where people have fun and enjoy themselves. You’re seeing luxury brands do this. Coach put a life coach in a pop-up shop in New York. Patagonia centered all of its marketing on sustainability.

What are some other examples of brands who are elevating the in-store experience?
Starbucks opened a one-of-a-kind store in China with a roaster so that customers could experience the roasting process. Lululemon has become a one-stop-shop for getting involved in exercise. There’s another store in China that calls itself a maker space, asking people to become co-creators of the things they’re buying. They’re building trust.

What role is technology playing?
One is storytelling. In Chicago, Nike opened a separate store next to its main store to educate people on how to use their purchases. Another thing is sentiment analysis. You can use facial recognition to see when customers are in need of assistance and engage them with technology without the need for a store associate.

Why is data so important and how has it influenced your personal approach to design?
We use data to try to help clients take new customer approach in their stores, to provide tailored experiences for different shoppers. What about elderly customers? You could have people come in at different hours to suit their schedules. Anxiety and depression is expected to be the No. 1 health concern by 2030. You could use customer data to plan respite spaces in retail centers.

How are clients reacting to this new way of thinking?
The savvy ones get excited about it. It’s offering them a new way to connect with consumers. We work with a very large shopping center in Columbus and they are right there with us because they are aware that shopping is not just about shopping, but about people, too. Cost remains an impediment. But at the end of the day, the best thing is to figure out a community and design a center that speaks to local needs.